Last modified on 11 May 2012, at 18:01

Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Major Events/Pettigrew's Death

Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Major Event
Pettigrew's Death
Location cellar under Malfoy Manor
Time Period Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, April
Important Characters Peter Pettigrew, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley

OverviewEdit

Beginner warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.

Sent to investigate a noise in the cellars, Peter Pettigrew (Wormtail) is ambushed by Harry and Ron. Wormtail's silver hand strangles Harry, as Ron struggles with Wormtail's wand hand. Harry reminds Wormtail that he owes a life debt to Harry, and Pettigrew hesitates; sensing the hesitation, Wormtail's silver hand turns on its master and kills him.

Event DetailsEdit

Harry, Ron, and Hermione are captured by Snatchers, and along with their existing captives Dean Thomas and Griphook, are taken to Malfoy Manor as the Snatchers hope to receive the reward for Harry's capture. Bellatrix Lestrange sees that they have the Sword of Gryffindor, and sends all the captives except Hermione into the cellar, where they also find Luna Lovegood and Mr. Ollivander. Luna has found a nail with which she is able to release Harry's bonds, and Harry, looking again at the shard of Sirius' magic mirror, notices a sky-blue eye looking out of it and pleads for help.

To confirm the story that Hermione has been telling under torture, Bellatrix now sends someone down to the cellar to fetch Griphook. As the door is slamming behind them, Dobby Apparates into the cellar. Harry asks Dobby to take Luna, Ollivander, and Dean to Shell Cottage, and though nervous at being in his erstwhile master's house, Dobby agrees. Bellatrix hears the sound of Dobby Disapparating, and sends Peter Pettigrew (Wormtail) down to the cellar to investigate.

Entering the cellar, Wormtail is momentarily surprised to find that it is lighted by four balls of light (liberated from Ron's Deluminator), and Ron, on his wand side, and Harry on the side where his silver hand was attached, jump him. Ron, unfortunately, is unable to wrest Wormtail's wand from his grip, and Harry is being slowly strangled by the silver hand. Harry reminds Wormtail that he owes Harry a life debt, incurred when Harry had prevented Lupin and Sirius from executing Pettigrew in the Shrieking Shack four years earlier. Wormtail hesitates, and the silver hand, sensing this, turns on Wormtail and strangles him, despite Harry's best efforts to save him. With Wormtail dead, the silver hand vanishes.

Notable ConsequencesEdit

With Pettigrew dead and the cellar door open, Ron and Harry will now be able to ascend to the main floor of Malfoy Manor to rescue Hermione.

The death of Pettigrew frees up a wand. As Ron had captured it from Wormtail, it will shift its allegiance to Ron, and so he can then use it to escape from Malfoy Manor. Ron's own wand had been captured by the Snatchers.

AnalysisEdit

Pettigrew's owing a life debt to Harry is another of the connections throughout the length of the series that has been repeatedly debated throughout the publication span of the books. At the end of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third book, Professor Dumbledore comments to Harry that Pettigrew now owes Harry a life debt, as Harry had saved Pettigrew's life, and suggests that Voldemort would likely not be happy at the thought that his main lieutenant owed a life debt to his main enemy. As with the apparent look of triumph that we see in Dumbledore's expression after the battle in the cemetery in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, there was endless speculation as to what it would mean in the future of the series, and whether it wold have any effect on the Wizarding War that would follow on Voldemort's return. Some readers may be dismayed at the size of the effect that the eventual revelation has; it seems a lot to go through for a momentary hesitation. However, that one hesitation is likely all that allowed Harry to defeat Pettigrew; we have already seen the superhuman strength of that silver hand. In all honesty, we cannot expect much more than this out of Pettigrew's life debt; we have seen how weak a reed he is, and how menial the duties assigned to him by Voldemort.

The hair-trigger reaction of the silver hand to Pettigrew's momentary hesitation is also telling. Clearly, Voldemort does not trust even his closest allies; earlier in this book, we may have noted that Voldemort seems to be attempting to determine the truth of something Snape is telling him by means of Legilimency, though Snape is at that point his right-hand man and presumably most-trusted Death Eater. The silver hand's immediate and fatal reaction indicates that Voldemort does not trust Pettigrew, the servant who cut off his own hand to restore Voldemort to life, to carry out his commands. More than that, it also shows that Voldemort had chosen to create the silver hand with this retribution built into it some three years before. Clearly, then, Voldemort sees betrayal and planned betrayal on all sides, and even his gifts to those he supposedly trusts will contain potentially fatal assurances that they will always be used to forward Voldemort's plans, rather than their bearers'.

QuestionsEdit

Study questions are meant to be left for each student to answer; please don't answer them here.

Greater PictureEdit

Intermediate warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.

It is interesting also to note that Harry does not actually kill Pettigrew, but that Voldemort's gift kills him despite Harry's efforts to save him. Pettigrew's death is a reaction to his own attempt to kill, or at least, disable Harry, coupled with Voldemort's distrust of his own lieutenant. This will turn out to be something of a pattern for Harry; he will disable several Death Eaters, but will kill none of them, despite having been counseled to use more extreme force by Lupin earlier in this book. And Pettigrew will not be the last foe of Harry's who falls to a reflection of his own malice.